Hughes Network Systems has received a contract from the US Air Force (USAF) to support its efforts to ensure satellite communications (SATCOM) resilience.

The $2.2m contract is funded by the USAF Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC).

Under the contract, Hughes will develop an enterprise management and control (EM&C) prototype for SATCOM.

The company will make use of artificial intelligence (AI) based Flexible Modem Interface (FMI) and Mission Management System (MMS) prototypes to enhance interoperability across military and commercial satellite networks.

Hughes Network Systems advanced defence systems vice-president Dr Rajeev Gopal said: “This is the second follow-on contract that Hughes has been awarded by the USAF, a testament to our commitment and ability to support the US Air Force Space Enterprise Vision of a more resilient national security space infrastructure using advanced software technologies.

“Using our AI-based terminal management and control technologies, we will show fixed and mobile terminals intelligently roaming among available commercial and military satellite systems for exponential improvements in network resiliency, capacity and cost models.”

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The firm will develop and showcase a solution that will allow SATCOM terminals designed for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to roam between networks through automated control processes.

The objective is to enable the terminals to maintain connectivity using alternate networks when an active transmission is down. This will lead to higher SATCOM resiliency.

Hughes will also use its HM Satellite System for the demonstration.

The system is designed to provide satellite-on-the-move capabilities for airborne, maritime and land mobility solutions.

It will allow UAVs and other aircraft to transmit real-time video and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data over satellite.

Hughes Defense and Intelligence Systems Division vice-president and general manager Rick Lober said: “This contract is another step forward as DoD continues making rapid progress in building high resilience and interoperability across their communications networks.

“Warfighters can no longer rely on single-threaded systems in contested environments, which is why it is critical the Space Enterprise Vision becomes reality as quickly as possible.”